ORLANDO, Fla. – At least five students were exposed to pepper spray Tuesday after an Orlando Police Department school resource officer used the spray and a Taser to break up a fight at Glenridge Middle School, officials with the Police Department said.
The school resource officer responded to a fight between two girls, ages 11 and 13, at 9:19 a.m. on the Upper Park Road school campus. When the students would not stop fighting after the officer issued several commands, he deployed his chemical spray, OPD public information Officer Michelle Guido said.
When the spray did not work, the officer used a Taser, according to police department officials. The girls were arrested and charged with resisting law enforcement officers without violence and disorderly conduct, according to their parents.
News 6 spoke to the parents of the girls involved in the fight. They said they were upset by the officer's decision to use force and said the families will stand together to show that their daughters can overcome any differences.
"I'm angry. As an adult, they should have gone in and tried to separate both girls, not pepper-spray them and tase them," said the mother of the 13-year-old girl.
The mother of the 11-year-old student involved stood in tears outside the school.
"She's 11 years old," she said. "It breaks my heart. I don't think it's right."
Five people, including the two girls arrested, were treated by the Orlando Fire Department for exposure to the chemical spray. Outside of school, several students were checked out early by parents because, they said, they were also exposed.
"I was panicking because I couldn't breath," Jose Rodriguez, a seventh-grader, said.
Rodriguez's father, Marc Beekee, said his son has asthma.
"If anything, with his asthma, he could die," Beekee said. "They said that the officer did it and that's not right. He should have been more courteous about the other people there."
Assistance Principal Diane Carter said some students were treated at the clinic on campus.
Carter sent a recorded message to guardians and parents after the incident, saying the students who were arrested "refused verbal commands to stop fighting."
"A group of students that was in the crowd around the fight were impacted by the spray," Carter said.
Carter said the campus is safe and normal activities have resumed.
Orlando police said an investigation into the officer's actions is underway, which is normal procedure.
"Any time an officer uses chemical spray or a Taser a 'response to resistance' investigation is conducted. That is underway now and when that is completed it will be public record," Guido said.
News 6 asked the department for copies of the policies and procedures regarding training for officers who serve as school resource officers.
Guido said school resource officers don't have their own policy and procedures, but are expected to follow those of the police department.
They are also required to complete the following:
- 40 hours of School Resource Officer basic training
- Crisis Intervention Team training
- CIT Youth training
- Autism awareness for LEO training
- Disproportionate Minority Contact training
- Sschool resource officer intermediate and advanced training
JUST IN: This is a screenshot of a fight happened at Glenridge Middle School this morning. The brother of the girl involved sent me this-girl’s mom is upset after OPD says an officer pepper sprayed & tased the two girls (11 & 13 y/o) & other kids pepper sprayed too. @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/9BEnMvyuR0— Nadeen Yanes (@NadeenNews6) February 13, 2018
Check back for updates on this developing story.